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Volume 68, Issue 14, Friday, September 13, 2002


UC gas leak, fire keep UHPD emergency busy

By Ray Hafner
Senior Staff Writer

A pair of emergency calls kept the UH Police Department busy Wednesday night responding to both a fire near the University Center and a gas leak at the Pizza Hut on Calhoun Road.

The fire flared up from an air ventilation shaft between Melcher Hall and the north side of the UC, UHPD Lt. Richard Storemski said. The call came in just after 7 p.m., and when officers arrived, they saw members of the custodial staff dumping buckets of water into the concrete shaft. Officers used their fire extinguishers to help put out the blaze.

Pin Lim/The Daily Cougar

UH police officers and members of the UH custodial staff pour water on a fire in a ventilation shaft west of Melcher Hall and north of the University Center. A burning cigarette butt is believed to have ignited the accumulated leaves.

Accumulated leaves in the bottom of the ventilation shaft fueled the fire. One member of the custodial staff speculated it was probably started when someone tossed in a burning cigarette butt.

"We do try to clean areas and tunnels to prevent buildup," David Irvin, vice president of plant operations, said.

The Houston Fire Department was called, but because the fire was extinguished, the call was cancelled.

Just before 8 p.m. a gas leak near Pizza Hut was reported and HFD did respond to that. Reliant Energy Entex was called, and inspectors found what they termed a "minor" gas leak, Storemski said.

The leak was located by 11 p.m., and repairs were finished by 3:30 a.m. UH's gas supply was not affected.

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